Ross River Virus Infection
Related Travel Health Notices
What is Ross River Virus Infection?
Ross River virus infection, or epidemic polyarthritis, is a viral infection spread by infected mosquitoes.
The virus causing Ross River virus infection is a member of the Togaviridae family of viruses.
Risk to Travellers
Fewer than one in three humans will become infected after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
It generally results in a self-limiting flu-like illness, but it can cause long-term joint pain and fatigue.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- There is no vaccine that protects against the Ross River virus.
- There is no vaccine and no specific treatment for Ross River virus infection, but treatment of symptoms can reduce discomfort.
- Medical treatment is aimed at easing joint pains and swelling, and minimizing fatigue and lethargy.
- Incubation of the disease following a bite of an infected mosquito varies from three days to three weeks with symptoms developing within seven to 14 days.
- Symptoms of Ross River virus infection vary person to person, but commonly include painful and swollen joints, sore muscles, aching tendons, skin rash, fever, fatigue, headache and swollen lymph nodes.
- Less common symptoms include sore eyes, sore throat, nausea and tingling in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
- Some individuals will experience reoccurring symptoms, especially joint pain, fatigue, lethargy and depression that may continue for up to one year following infection.
- Symptoms disappear eventually and leave few or no after-effects.
- Children are less troubled by the symptoms of RRV infection than adults; the disease is usually milder and runs a shorter course.
- Most people who have been exposed to Ross River virus are immune for life.
- Ross River virus infection can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. A variety of mosquito species can transmit RRV, biting day and/or night.
- For instance, in Australia the following species have been found to be Ross River virus carriers:
- Aedes vigilax, a salt marsh mosquito, bites day and night.
- Aedes normanensis, a flood water mosquito, bites by day in the shade and at night.
- Culex annulirostris breeds in shallow water and bites after sundown and at night.
- Aedes notoscriptus, found only in urban areas where it breeds in artificial receptacles, bites during the day in the shade and at night.
- Ross River virus infection cannot be passed from person to person.
Where is Ross River Virus Infection a Concern?
- Ross River virus infection is found in all States and Territories of Australia, but occurs more often in the northern States and in coastal areas.
- Infection can occur year round, but is more common from late November to the end of April during the wet season when mosquito activity increases.
- Ross River virus is also found in Papua, New Guinea, areas of Indonesia and the Western Pacific islands.
Consult a doctor, nurse or health care provider, or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
- Fact sheet on Ross River Fever: Government of New South Wales, Australia
- Statement on Personal Protective Measures to Prevent Arthropod Bites, The Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT)
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